Here it is: long awaited Chapter 21… sorry I'm never on time!

This chapter is dedicated to my Beta (yes, I had one… hard to tell, eh?) who would rather sit, read, and cry over my writing than actually proofread anything. You are an awful proofreader, but my best friend and I wouldn't trade you for anything. Thank you for chatting with me, reading horrible paragraphs, giving me honest opinions, actually proofreading when I specifically asked, and the pack of gum I just stole from you. (I'll replace it, I promise!) -xxx

Summary that sucks: A new prophecy has both Harry and Draco training for the ultimate fight. Ginny has many secrets of her own, one involving the newly tattooed Draco. He has hatred and ruthlessness branded into him; will his love for Ginny give him new, more painful scars?

Disclaimer: Jo owns everything, along with her entourage of publishers and I am just having fun!

Disclaimer 2: These song lyrics do not belong to me, and they are not meant to promots this story in any way. I love these bands, and actually buy their albums. If anyone is interested in any of the bands I list, I would love to pass on their greatness!


To my favorite liar, to my favorite scar:
"I could have died with you"
I hope you choke on those words, that kiss, that bottle- I confess
Now ask yourself out of the insides, I said I loved you but I lied
Fall Out Boy, Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today

Chapter 21:

The best part of "scared" is the "scar"
(The best part of "believe" is the "lie.")

Ginny let her hand trail along Draco's moon lit blood red bedcovers, the pillows and blankets were now straightened by the house elves leaving no trace of the tumultuous night before. She thought about what had happened between them and smiled at the fresh memories of going to sleep next to him, his grey eyes gazing at her from across the sheets.

There was no question in her mind; she was in love with Draco Malfoy.

But her heart sank unwillingly with worry and she lowered herself onto the edge of the bed, sighing brokenly. She tried to think about her sprained wrist, it hurt much less than thinking about Draco. But he occupied her every thought, and there was no way she was leaving without answers.

She knew he saved her at the fight today; there was no question about whose eyes were behind that horrible black mask. He tortured someone for her, her breath caught as the sound of the Death Eater's scream echoed through her. She had never seen him as angry as he had been in that moment. If he hadn't been there, she would have been dead. Tears flowed down her face and she shivered with anticipation at seeing him again. He would be here, she knew it.

He was a Death Eater, and she was in love with him.

He was a Death Eater…

And for the first time that night, she allowed herself to reflect on the little thought she had worked so hard to keep from shoving through. Draco had killed Dumbledore; she had seen it with her own eyes. Her boyfriend was a murderer, she thought, as a hard knot of emotion worked her way up her throat and she tried not to cry. Was it her fault? She wondered, searching back through all her actions and words and things Draco had told her. Could she have prevented any of this?

There were the obvious clues: his tattoo, his late night meetings that she concluded were his training sessions, his increasingly dark demeanor. Everything suggested that he was a Death Eater, and now she had the ultimate proof. He had lied to her, and she had blindly believed him.

There was nothing to stop the tears now, and she let them flow fast and furious down her cheeks. What else had he lied about? He might have saved her today, but he had still locked her in his room this morning. Did he really want to prevent her from revealing him? Or did he want to protect her from the Death Eaters… or having to watch him murder Dumbledore?

A soft sob escaped her and it sounded unnaturally loud in the deathly quiet room. But the sound of her crying disgusted her; Draco did not deserve her tears. She was strong, and she would not confront Draco while she was sniffling and blotchy eyed.

She lay back on the bed, her eyes focusing on the open bedroom door. Beyond it was complete darkness and though it unnerved her, she watched it for awhile, waiting for him to materialize.

As she waited, her mind kept unwillingly replaying when Draco appeared out of the Forbidden Forest. It was engrained into her memory and the more she tried to not think about it, the harder it pressed. She could clearly see everything, and though she was far away she had tried to focus on Draco's masked face, searching for any sign. But she could only remember how threateningly his dark robes billowed lowly about his feet, and how malicious his voice sounded when he muttered the Killing Curse. It was useless, she conceded, she was waiting to meet a murderer. Her bottom lip quivered dangerously.

"It wasn't him!" she said out loud, trying to convince herself it was true. The scene ran through her head again, nagging her subconscious. And suddenly she sat up.

"Hold on…" she whispered to herself, an incredulous smile spreading on her face. It truly wasn't him, she realized. Draco's robes fit him perfectly; it was the one thing she knew he was meticulous about. The insane way he made sure his robes were immaculate, and along with how much he obsessed about clean nails and wrinkle-free pants, were the subjects of some heated teasing. Draco, or whoever killed Dumbledore, had robes that were too long, they swung around his feet and trailed along behind him. Draco's robes barely swept the ground. There were not many people taller than Draco's over six foot frame, so this person had to be shorter than Draco, because there was no way he would ever appear in ill-fitting robes. Someone killed Dumbledore in Draco's robes she concluded.

After that, the clues became easy to recognize. The way the killer walked was different, he held his wand in his right hand, Draco's wand hand was his left.

He didn't do it, Ginny sighed, but the feeling of relief she expected just gave way to a dull ache. Draco still hurt her today, even if he had saved her life. But he would come back to her, she knew it. Her eyes closed as the pain medication for her wrist started to give in, and Ginny fell asleep against the pillows, waiting for him.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

Draco had watched as Snape calmly strolled back under the cover of the Forbidden Forest never betraying a single emotion. Draco had even searched his Professor's face for any sign of a reaction to what he had just done, but his face was like stone as he deftly removed the Serpent robes and handed them back to Draco.

With one glance sideways out of the forest, they could see three teachers running carefully towards Dumbledore's fallen body, their eyes searching the tree line for more Death Eaters. But Draco knew that he and Snape were the only two left in the forest, and not wanting to risk waiting any longer in case he was discovered, Snape Apparated quickly.

But Draco stayed, watching as the teachers approached Dumbledore's body. They were getting very close to him, a few moments more and they would be able to see him. It wouldn't have mattered if they did, Draco thought. His level of caring about anything had disappeared. He knew he should be scared about confronting Voldemort, but he wasn't even affected by the idea. He also knew he should be scared about being caught, but all he could do was watch through the tree branches.

But every feeling he had left him. It was odd, he mused, to not give a worry when you knew you were in deep shit. It wasn't over, but Draco didn't care what the outcome was going to be. His realization that nothing was ever going to be the same from that moment on ripped him of any emotion that he could have felt. He just couldn't work up the energy to be concerned what was going to happen to him.

His arm burned with incredible intensity at that moment, and Draco indifferently decided to Apparate. Someone wanted him, and it was better than waiting here to be discovered.

And now Draco was standing in the cavernous Dealing Hall of Cassiopeia facing the largest gathering of Death Eaters he had ever seen. When he had arrived, he briefly caught his father's gaze, who was standing next to a swaying Professor Morticai. At the front of the pack, Voldemort stood quietly contemplating him with a look in his eyes that would have made any person halt their breathing out of fear.

Draco's eyes were forward, however, concentrating on nothing and everything as he was taught in his training. But he did not have to see Voldemort's expression to know what it held. The room vibrated with the Dark Lord's anger and the Death Eater's presence only intensified it. But Draco felt nothing, except slight amusement that he wasn't intimidated.

His mind was blank as if it had been completely wiped clean. The only thing that existed to him were the narrowed eyes in front of him that scrutinized his every feature. Voldemort had been completely silent and Draco knew he was waiting, though for what he was not sure. So, they continued to stand and let the silence envelop them. Draco was sure that the anticipation he should have felt was meant to torture him, but his complete callousness became his courage.

Finally Voldemort spoke, and though it was soft, the noise echoed off the walls with eerie intensity.

"Did you accept everything I have ever taught you, Anguisator?" was the question, and Draco did not consider his answer very hard.

"Yes, Master," Draco said smugly, his eyes finally resting boldly on the Dark Lord. At those words, a slow smile crept up Voldemort's tight face, stretching its paper thinness to the point where it looked painful.

"I do not tolerate lies, Apprentice. I also do not tolerate betrayal, and I most definitely do not tolerate disobedience!" Voldemort shouted. Draco could see a few Death Eaters behind Voldemort cringe in fear, while others leaned forward and sideways to get a better view. Draco knew what was coming, and yet he had no emotion over it.

"I followed your orders, Master, it was my orders that were not followed which was why punishment was necessary," Draco's confidence echoed throughout the room, followed by complete silence. He could see the furious rage bubbling in Voldemort's expression, but his complete lack of concern held fast.

"I am not of that opinion, Apprentice," Voldemort hissed slowly.

"The mission was successful, Master. The Teacher had been recovered and is uninjured. The Headmaster is dead," Draco answered assertively.

"Was that the true mission?" Voldemort asked, a slow smile spreading across his face. "Because I understood the mission was to prove your worth to me."

Draco shrugged visibly. "I completed the objectives. The Teacher has been recovered. I would have obeyed your command to kill Dumbledore if you had given it to me, but you did not give me the chance."

"I did not give you the chance because I had already witnessed you destroy your first chance," Voldemort answered. "How did you miss that Potter was a full Aspect? And that there are two Aspects who are still alive! Explain that," he commanded.

"You told me that I am to concentrate on my training only. Potter and the other two hid their powers very well," Draco replied.

"Am I expected to accept that as your answer!" Voldemort choked. "There were three full Aspects in the same building, and you failed to identify them!"

"You failed to realize that you didn't kill them in the first place! You are as much at fault as I am!" Draco retorted, his eyes narrowing. Voldemort visibly recoiled, his slit nostrils flaring in anger. He saw the other Death Eaters stir, their panic and excitement flowing through them like a wave. His father rushed forward to Voldemort's side, but with one flick of the Dark Lord's hand, Lucius stopped.

"This is between me and my Apprentice," he snarled, then turned back to face Draco. "You are still lying to me, Apprentice." Voldemort's eyes narrowed and Draco immediately knew he was referring to the Death Eater he had tortured.

"I explained that already, my orders were not followed by that man," Draco gestured towards the Death Eater he had Crucio-ed, who was still periodically twitching. They exchanged heated looks, but Draco turned back towards Voldemort unaffected by the man's hatred.

"I don't think that's why you tortured him, Apprentice," Voldemort hissed savagely, and Draco's stomach unexpectedly dropped. "You failed me today in more ways that one. Yes, I accept that your mission was a success but that does not excuse that you failed to meet my expectations. I taught you my most treasured lessons, and you disregarded them," Voldemort slowly started to circle him, and Draco could feel the panic start to rise. He knew exactly why, Voldemort was talking about Ginny.

"That girl you saved, who was she?"

Draco was silent, but his breathing caught. All he could think of was protecting Ginny from being discovered.

"Silence? Alright, let's try an easier question, why did you save her?"

This time Draco answered, but he could hear the uncertainty in his voice. "She did not deserve to die. My orders did not include harming the students."

"Since when did I tell you to care about the lives of others? Especially Hogwarts students?" Voldemort demanded.

"We were there to collect the Teacher and leave…" Draco fought back.

"You betrayed me by protecting my enemies, Draco," the Dark Lord hissed. "I chose you because you were strong in your beliefs, beliefs that were similar to mine in almost every way. I worked towards one goal: to make you strong. And to my disappointment, you turned out to be the weakest of us all!" Voldemort shouted at him.

Weak…

Weak…

The word echoed through Draco's head in disgusting shame. It enveloped him and sank into his mind until he realized that Voldemort was right. He was weak, everything he had strived to become was gone because of one thing…

"Again, I ask you. Who was she?" Voldemort hissed. Draco was silent for a long time, and Voldemort waited. It seemed like the words were stuck in his throat.

Ginny was his downfall, she made him weak…

"She is a pureblood," Draco answered quietly. Every emotion he had worked so hard to keep out was not flooding into his system. Ginny was invading his senses and he could not stop thinking about her. He barely kept his thoughts of her behind his mental barrier so that Voldemort wouldn't know who she was. But, through the dread and concern of what his punishment would be, all he could think of was that Ginny did not deserve his protection anymore. She drove him to failure.

"Excuses," Voldemort waved, "I will tell you who she is: she embodies every single one of your weaknesses, Apprentice."

Draco nodded. It was true.

"You betrayed your family: that is the ultimate weakness, Draco. Everything I have worked to teach you was worthless, you are worthless."

Draco's eyes snapped to his, hatred rising in his throat. He wanted to strangle everyone in the room.

His breathing was heavy, his eyes slowly unfocused as a thought of Ginny crossed his mind. It was her fault he faced this fate, he realized. This was his life and he almost let it go because of Ginny Weasley.

"I am not worthless, Master. I can do better," Draco promised.

"I know you will, Apprentice, but not without punishment." Voldemort's voice echoed through the room, followed by electrified silence. Only now, Draco felt the weight of that silence as it was meant to be. He quickly prepared himself for the pain, knowing he would never be able to prepare enough.

"Crucio," Voldemort yelled, and Draco dropped to his knees in horrid pain. Through it he could hear Voldemort shouting at him, "Emotionless cruelty and hate will bring you glory! Trust no one, befriend no one, love no one! You betrayed us all with your actions!"

Draco's hands hit the floor as he bent over with the agony. He would never get used to the feeling of knives slicing through his skin or the overwhelming pain that drove him beyond thought. But one remained in his consciousness: Ginny.

She was the cause of this; he had not been able to let her go. He had not fully accepted his teachings and now he was paying the price. As if those were the magic words, Draco felt the curse leave him.

But as soon as it stopped, he looked up to see the Death Eater he had tortured pointing his wand at him.

"Crucio," he heard again, and the pain hit him again like it was splitting his sides and ripping out his ribs. But this was from a weaker wizard, and Draco inhaled slightly then lunged from all fours to tackle the man's legs. The pain vanished, but Draco lay on his back, exhausted.

He did not know how long he laid there, his body recovering from the curse, but he suddenly found himself walking back to his dorm room in Hogwarts with the orders to collect his things and return to Cassiopeia to begin his Aspect training.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

By the time the dinner plates had magically filled, over half of the school was already gone. Their parents, who were immediately floo-ed, owled, or phoned, had come quickly to gather their children and get them home safely.

But, the lack of students was not the reason the Great Hall was so quiet. It seemed as if everyone was in shock from the afternoon's events, and the remaining students and teachers ate their food with glazed over eyes and sad hearts.

Dumbledore was gone.

Harry, Hermione, Ron, Lukas, and Emlyn all sat at the Gryffindor table, unwilling to separate themselves and uncaring about the sideways glances they were receiving. They waited for Ginny to start eating, but Emlyn convinced them that she would be awhile, so they picked at their food half-heartedly in silence. No one could think of anything to say.

At the end of the meal, McGonagall rose to address them. Her eyes held such deep sadness that Harry wondered if McGonagall and Dumbledore were more than just colleagues.

"Students and faculty, I do not have much to say tonight except that Professor Dumbledore was the heart and soul of this school," she gulped heavily and swiped regally at her eyes. Professor Flitwick rushed to hold her hand as she went on. "As you can tell, your parents have been notified of the events that have taken place here today. Some parents are still arriving, and for those students, I wish you a blessed and safe summer. For the rest of you, the Hogwarts Express will leave early tomorrow morning and I and many of the other faculty will be escorting you to King's Cross. Many questions have arisen as to the future of the school, I have no reason to believe that the school will close and hope to see most of you in my classes next year," she sighed, then smiled softly down at Professor Flitwick who was nodding enthusiastically. "I think it is time we should retire, if the Prefects would escort the remaining students in their Houses back to your Common Rooms. I will see you bright and early tomorrow morning," she finished, and the benches scraped back as students slowly filed out of the Great Hall.

"Potter, a moment?" McGonagall asked as he walked by.

"Of course," Harry answered, and glanced behind him as Ron, Hermione, Lukas and Emlyn stopped behind him.

"The new head of The Order of the Phoenix would like to speak with you as soon as possible. If you would follow me?" she did not smile, and turned to walk down the aisle. Harry did not move, slightly offended that the new head of The Order only wanted to speak to him. McGonagall turned and lifted her head regally.

"If you would hurry, please?" she sighed. "All of you, please! You don't go anywhere without each other, and now you can't move? He wants to see you all," she scolded as they all started off towards the Headmaster's office.

No one spoke as they entered the study, but Harry was sure he wasn't the only one who felt awful holding a meeting in Headmaster's office without the Headmaster. He also felt a bit guilty that he hadn't given a second thought to the future of the school or The Order.

But any feelings washed out of him when he saw Mr. Weasley sitting in a chair he had pulled up to the side of the desk, scribbling furiously. The large chair covered in buttery leather that sat proudly behind the desk was unoccupied, and Harry was glad that Mr. Weasley seemed to have the same idea that it was a chair meant only for Dumbledore.

"Good to see you all," Arthur greeted them solemnly, and immediately conjured seven chairs for them to sit in. McGonagall gratefully collapsed in the nearest chair, and Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lukas and Emlyn claimed the others.

"Where is Ginny?" he asked, looking up between lines of scribbles. Emlyn answered him quickly before the others.

"She is still in the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey wanted her to stay a bit longer," Emlyn said calmly. Arthur rubbed his eyes, and Harry noticed that he looked more tired and old than the last time he had seen him.

"Alright then, we will just have to start without her and someone is going to have to fill her in since I am under the impression that a lot of this will apply to her," Arthur said quietly.

"Don't we have to wait for the new head of The Order?" Harry asked him, and Arthur cracked a funny smile.

"That's me, Harry, and I have a lot to tell you," Arthur smiled kindly.

"Bugger off!" Ron bellowed incredulously, and Hermione hit him in the arm.

"Hard to believe, I know," Arthur smiled at his son, "But I've been working with Dumbledore for a long while, ever since we knew this day would come."

"He knew he was going to die?" Harry asked, unbelievingly.

"Yes, he did. Just as Professor Morticai knew that Voldemort was going to come looking for her," he looked pointedly at Lukas and Emlyn. "I am sorry that this has happened, and even though we have a chance of recovering her, I'm afraid that the outlook is not in our favor." Harry saw Lukas take Emlyn's hand and a jolt of jealousy ran through him, he wanted to comfort her, he thought. But his attention was forced back to the conversation.

"Why does this apply to Ginny? Is she involved?" Hermione was asking.

"Well, this situation has everything to do with Draco Malfoy, and since I am under the impression that Ginny is involved with Draco, this certainly applies to her," Arthur stated grimly. Ron and Harry both turned red.

"And what does this have to do with Draco Malfoy?" Harry asked lowly, though he had a sneaking suspicion that he already knew.

"You're still a let down Potter. You should have figured it out by now," Snape sneered as he entered through the back door of the office.

"Please, Severus, this is hard on us all," Arthur said, and Snape inclined his head. "Did you bring the letters?" he asked softly, and Snape handed him a packet of tightly rolled scrolls.

"Figured what out?" Ron demanded loudly and Hermione hit him lightly again.

"Malfoy is Voldemort's new apprentice, Ron," Harry stated, and from the look on Arthur's face he knew he was right.

"You knew then? Shouldn't have doubted it, you bunch were always the clever ones," Arthur commented.

"Malfoy killed Dumbledore!" Hermione suddenly gasped and half stood up, her hand covering her mouth.

"I saw it!" Ron hollered.

"You are both wrong," Snape sneered at them, "I killed Dumbledore."

The whole room was silent for about three seconds before full scale chaos erupted. Harry dove furiously across the desk at Snape, Lukas and Ron followed Harry while Arthur and McGonagall started pulling the boys off Snape and Hermione and Emlyn yelled encouragements.

It took a good ten minuets to settle everyone down and stop the bleeding from punched noses and broken lips. Another fight would have erupted if Arthur had not threatened to hex them all with bubbling blisters, but the chairs had to be rearranged to form a barrier between Snape and Harry, Ron, and Lukas just in case.

"If you wouldn't be so quick to act, I could have explained the whole situation and your nose wouldn't be broken. SO STOP WHINING!" Arthur directed this last part as his son, who was whimpering in agony. Harry suspected it was because Hermione was fussing over him, but kept quiet.

They all fell silent and waited patiently for Arthur and Snape to begin.

"This all started with the deaths of your family members, Lukas and Emlyn. After the Death Eaters came back claiming to have killed all three legendary Aspects, Voldemort was suspicious. He was not fully convinced you were gone for good, and although the Death Eaters assured him it was true, he wanted further proof," Arthur told them, then looked over to Snape, who started speaking.

"Since my talents with entering minds are known to the Dark Lord, he asked me, as he usually does, to read the thoughts of the Death Eaters to search for inaccuracies, lies, ways they could be wrong, anything. What I found was that there was a possibility that two of you may have survived. The Death Eaters assumed it was your parents who were not at home that day, when in actuality it was you two," Snape motioned towards Lukas and Emlyn, then continued. "I alerted Dumbledore that you might be alive, and soon after he was contacted by Damaris. But I did not tell the Dark Lord of my suspicions. I fed him false information and also assured him that the Death Eaters believed all the Aspects to be dead," Snape stopped and sighed. Arthur continued.

"But what Severus didn't know was that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was also entering the minds of the Death Eaters, and though he is not as talented as Severus, came to the conclusion that something wasn't right. Ever since, Severus has had to work double hard to convince He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named that he is mistaken in his beliefs," Arthur looked over at Snape, who looked ready to continue.

"The Dark Lord's trust is not easily won back, and I needed something big. Dumbledore and Damaris agreed, and they eventually decided that I would reveal the location of the Teacher, someone who the Dark Lord had been searching vehemently for months. That information was what started the chain reaction that lead to today. Malfoy's training started, plans went into action to obtain the Teacher, I became trusted again," Snape pushed back a strand of greasy hair.

"That still doesn't explain why you murdered Dumbledore," Harry hissed, and the others nodded slowly, their eyes never leaving Snape. Harry thought he saw Snape flinch, but decided he imagined it.

"We are getting to that Harry," Arthur told him, then continued. "Ever since Damaris' location was revealed, Dumbledore knew that there would be an attempt to remove her. He planned and watched, and hoped that there might be something, or someone," Arthur paused and cleared his throat, clearly upset, "to change the course of the future. But plans continued, and Dumbledore knew that there might be a moment within the fighting where he would be faced with life or death," Arthur paused, then glanced over at Snape. "I believe this might be a time to distribute the letters, Severus, I wouldn't do the explanation justice." Snape nodded, handing Harry a thick scroll, and Ron, Hermione, Lukas, and Emlyn each smaller rolls.

"If you would read allowed the first page of yours, Harry," Arthur asked.

Harry unrolled the parchment and realized that it was a letter addressed to him from Dumbledore. He took a deep breath and began to read.

"'Greetings Harry, I hope this letter finds you well and in good company. Obviously, if you are reading this I am gone, and my most trusted friend has, as they say, done the deed.

"'There are many explanations for this, all of which I owe you, but alas, did not have the time. The fate of the wizarding and Muggle worlds rests on you, my young friend. I am terribly sorry that you must bear this burden alone, but I hope that this year you have made new wonderful friends and kept your wonderful old ones. They will help you more than you could ever realize. Use their resources, let them help you. They want to be a part of your life, and do not deny them that pleasure.

"'As for the reason I am gone, there are more important things than my life. Severus Snape did what I asked him, and for that, I am truly grateful. In order to give you the utmost chance of success, I have placed my most trusted friend in the greatest of dangers. He has worked hard to advance to his position within the Death Eaters to spy for me, thus giving you an advantage over Voldemort.

"'I realize that you, Harry, have not had the best experience with Severus, but I assure you that he is trustworthy and my death proves it. His ultimate goal is to remain within the Death Eater ranks, and if my death continues his success, than so be it.

"'I have also come to understand that in this fight between Voldemort and yourself there is no place for me anymore. During your younger years, I was your protection. Voldemort feared me and as long as that held, you were safe. But now you can take care of yourself, you are powerful, resourceful, and smart. Voldemort has realized that also, and thus, I have become obsolete. He does not fear me, and though I did not know when, I could feel my death becoming more imminent with each day you grew stronger.

"'Severus and Arthur will help you no matter what the cost. My only hope is that you are victorious. This is my explanation.'" Harry finished. They were all silent, contemplating this new information.

"So you murdered Dumbledore because he asked you so that you continue to spy for Harry?" Ron summarized incredulously.

"I never would have gone through with it if it wasn't necessary, Mr. Weasley," Snape sneered.

"Enough," Arthur glared at Ron. "Any other questions?"

"What is the plan now?" Harry asked quickly, before Hermione could raise her hand.

"Well, I have been meeting with Albus for quite some time, and his wishes are for that you all to continue with your education, especially you Harry. He believed that once He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named obtained Damaris that he would need time to train his chosen Apprentice. He still believes that the Apprentice is the key to the war, and will probably keep low until Draco is ready to be revealed to the world. Curiously, Dumbledore also believed that the Apprentice's loyalties were pivotal, but I think now that we know where they lay." Arthur looked away wistfully, but Emlyn drew his attentions back.

"What is going to happen to us?" she asked quietly. Arthur smiled kindly at her and Lukas.

"My wife, Molly, has invited you both back to the Burrow with us for the summer. I know you and Lukas planned to enter into Auror Training with Ron, Harry, and Hermione and since you will all be leaving at the same time, it would be convenient for you. That way you can continue to protect yourselves with Harry's help, but you are welcome at our home whenever you need a place to stay," Arthur told them.

Lukas smiled, "That is very kind of your family, Mr. Weasley."

After that the questions drained into silence, and McGonagall released them to go get some sleep before their train ride back in the morning.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

She woke up to his sweet touch on her face. He was brushing the hair away from her cheek, whispering to her.

"Wake up, love," he murmured, softly kissing her neck. Relief at his safety flooded through her and Ginny smiled as she wrapped her arms around him tightly and he pressed his lips to hers.

But she immediately felt that something was wrong; the kiss wasn't anything like the others they shared. She felt hatred and punishment behind it. She pushed him away and opened her eyes. He was standing over her, still in full Death Eater regalia. As he moved away from her she caught site of his jet black robes in the darkness, and along his left sleeve was printed the figure of his snake tattoo in bright white. She couldn't bring herself to look at it, but it confirmed everything she believed to be true.

"Admiring the new robes?" Draco asked her darkly, "I rather like them."

"Draco, what are you doing?"

"I'm saying goodbye," he said simply, "Which is already more than you would have gotten if you hadn't already been in here." Then turned and conjured his trunk from thin air without his wand. Ginny threw off the covers and crawled to the end of the bed to kneel there, unsure of what to think.

"You're leaving and you weren't going to say goodbye to me?"

"The Dark Lord's Apprentice should not keep his Master waiting. And besides, you were getting too attached to me anyways." Ginny heard the mocking tone of his voice and chose to ignore that statement even though it hurt her terribly to hear him say it.

"So it is true. You're a Death Eater…" Ginny said stupidly, but it was all she could think of to say, and Draco had seemed to become absorbed in his packing and forget she was there.

"Brilliant, you are." Draco said nastily. "What gave it away?"

Ginny ignored his comment again. "For how long? Before you got the tattoo, right?" she demanded.

"Does it matter? I can't really remove it," Draco said flippantly, motioning to his arm. He turned back around and started grabbing more things from his room and tossing them into the trunk on the floor.

"It matters to me," Ginny said, her gaze fixed on the rapidly filling trunk.

"Well, it won't anymore since I'm leaving."

"Answer my question!" Ginny said fiercely, her eyes fixing on him. Her tone finally caught his attention and he turned to look at her kneeling on his bed. They stared at each other for a long moment. Draco's face was stone and Ginny was working hard not to let her emotions show either.

"Did you do it?" Ginny asked quietly. Draco did not need to ask her what she meant, he knew from the moment he saw her that she wanted answers. She was incredibly predictable in that way. "I know you didn't kill Dumbledore, I just want to hear you say it." She crossed her arms defensively.

"And what if I told you that I did kill that brainless wizard?" Draco lashed out. His anger was overtaking him and he needed to calm down, so he resumed packing.

"I'll believe anything you tell me," Ginny answered him, and when he turned he saw the pleading in her eyes.

"What a stupid answer," Draco laughed at her, then turned back around. Ginny's heart fell, something had shifted in him and she could see it.

"You're angry because you couldn't be the one to do it, aren't you? You're still on your quest to prove yourself to your precious father, and then someone stepped in and stole your glory, am I right?" Ginny glared at his turned back, purposefully provoking him.

Draco was livid and completely surprised that she figured out one source of his anger. She was right, he was angry that Snape stole his chance to prove himself, but he was angrier that she knew him well enough to realize it.

"You're father is evil," she continued, willing him to turn around and face her, "And you're too dense to realize that you'll never be good enough in his eyes," Ginny inhaled sharply as Draco turned around and stalked towards her, his face mutinous. "He can never realize how…" she stopped as Draco tackled her backwards onto his bed, his hand at her throat. But she wasn't scared of him. "…how perfect you really are," she finished.

Draco looked at her and swallowed hard. He could feel her body underneath his, but anger still consumed him.

"My ever-present cheerleader, aren't you?" Draco sneered at her, and Ginny suddenly felt very vulnerable in his presence.

"I'll always be here for you, Draco. You made sure of that today when you saved my life," she told him quietly. They looked at each other for a long moment, and Ginny recalled how uncomplicated life had been before all of this started. The moonlight streamed in through the windows and captured their faces in profile. Ginny's heart tugged and she stopped herself from reaching up and pushing Draco's hair back from his eyes.

"Well it seems that saving you is the mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life," Draco told her, then rolled off the bed. Ginny scoffed.

"You think it was a mistake because you acted instinctively. You didn't have time to sit down and meticulously plan everything and make sure it was the right decision," Ginny snapped at him, sick to her stomach that he could treat her so indifferently. She crawled to the end of the bed again to confront him, feeling better when she could be face to face with him rather than having to look up.

"Ginny, the punishment I received tonight almost killed me, all because I saved your life. That's a pretty clear example of the wrong thing to do," he sneered.

"So, if I had died today, you would be okay with it because you wouldn't have almost died?" Ginny asked incredulously. She knew she was fishing for any sign that he still cared for her, refusing to believe what seemed to be evident.

"You're only setting yourself up for some more heartbreak, Ginny," Draco said quietly, keeping his back to her again. Ginny's heart sank, and her breathing caught. No, she told herself, their love had not been a lie! She would not let him go without a fight; she would make him realize that he loved her and that she wouldn't let him go.

"Look at me, you coward," she growled, "Answer me to my face." She kneeled straight and proud on the edge of his bed, her knees sinking into his comforter. She was face to face with him and could see the look in his eyes.

"Do you know how many scars I have, Ginny?" he looked back at her.

"Seven, I can trace each one with my eyes closed," she insinuated boldly, her eyes never leaving his. Normally, Draco would have happily made her prove it, but today he didn't even crack a smile.

"Fine. Do you remember how I got them?" he asked her.

"No, why would I?" Ginny retorted, trying to shake the sinking feeling in her heart.

"That's exactly what I thought, why would I remember them? I was only there when it happened," he snorted sarcastically. "But the thing is I SHOULD remember every fucking slice. I SHOULD remember every face that gave these to me. But, I don't."

"I don't understand," she told him, unwilling to think where this was headed.

"It is a sign of weakness to forget those things Ginny. To have a permanent scar that someone gave me; I should remember what happened, right?"

Ginny was silent.

"But I don't remember any of it. Do you want to know what I remember?" His smile was screwed up as he looked at her. "This scar," he lifted his shirt, and pointed to the slash across his chest, "this reminds me of the first time you touched me, Ginny. That time I pulled you in the closet and I kissed you because you drove me insane. This scar," he pointed to the one on forehead. "I can't look in the mirror without thinking about how beautiful you looked after I woke you up the morning you stitched me." He pointed to the healed gash on in arm and laughed bitterly. "Every time you wanted my attention, you touched me here. I was hot for days after you sat on my lap for five minuets that day in the library; I have scars from that too."

"So you're mad at me because you can't remember something?" Ginny asked him, though she barely got it out because she was breathless from his admissions. Somewhere inside him, he still loved her.

"I'm not mad at you, Ginny," Draco laughed bitterly. I hate you for what you've done to me.

"Right," she exhaled sardonically. "You told me you'd never lie to me, Draco."

"I told you I wouldn't lie, but I never said I'd tell the truth," Draco retorted quickly, rounding on her.

"So you've lied to me then?" Ginny looked at him, trying to keep her voice emotionless.

"Everyday," he said casually. Ginny tried not to let her complete disappointment show.

"Then why did you save me?" she asked him.

"You forgot that I locked you in here first," Draco told her, trying to divert her attention. He just wanted to leave and cursed himself that he ever woke her up.

"Alright, why did you do that?"

"Stop asking me questions that you don't want to know the answers to, Ginny!" Draco shouted at her, annoyed. He tried to feel something other than hatred for her at that moment, and couldn't. All he saw was his one weakness standing before him, and his hatred grew.

"I want to know, and I deserve to know!" Ginny told him. "You locked me in here so you could go about Death Eater business. Dumbledore was murdered today, and you're the suspect! A teacher was kidnapped! All on the same day that you locked me in your rooms! Why?"

"Because, Ginny! You command my attention, and you know you do it! I can't be in the same room without having to know exactly where you are and you play off that fact so hard that it drives me nuts! You're a distraction, and that's why I wanted you away from me," he snapped at her, but Ginny wasn't deterred, they had had worse fights before. But in the back of her mind, she knew this wasn't just a quarrel.

"I'll never leave you, Draco," she said fiercely. "You made sure of that when you saved me today. We can never be without each other. I knew it from the moment you kissed me, and today you proved it to yourself, even if you knew it or not. That's why you saved me, Draco, you love me."

"You're full of shit." He knew she was right, but that was six hours ago, and now he was just furious with himself and with her.

"That was eloquent. Would you care to restate that?" she threatened.

"I said PISS OFF."

"You saved me, Draco, and you did it for a reason. You said it yourself that you care about me," she told him angrily, trying to believe it herself. "Why are you acting like this?"

"Because I need to leave, and you are, again, distracting me from what I should be doing," he said nastily.

"Are you leaving for good?" she asked him softly. He turned around and looked at her. Ginny had gotten down off the bed and was now standing in front of him, he eyes locked onto his. He didn't answer her, and she tried to think of something else to say. Instead she reached up and brushed his hair out of his eyes, tracing her finger down the scar on the side of his forehead. He told her he thought she was beautiful, she remembered, and her throat caught. But he caught her sprained wrist in his grip, and she visually cringed with pain. He didn't let go.

"My body was one giant memory devoted to you. It stops now," he said lowly.

"Why? Why does it have to stop?" she barely whispered. Her confidence had faltered long ago.

"Do you remember what I did when I found out that you had stitched me?"

"You ripped them out,"

"Which is what I did to you: I ripped you out." Draco twisted her wrist and shoved her towards his door. "Get out." He commanded savagely, deciding it was time to stop talking. He had work to get done.

Ginny cried out in pain, her wrist burning where he had held it. Draco had never physically hurt her before, she realized. Slowly a tear slid down her cheek.

"So this is it? You did lie to me, didn't you? I've never held you back, and I've never held back any of my feelings for you. And this it how it ends?" she asked, trying to hold back the rest of her tears.

"Oh, but you have held me back, Ginny. You think that your love can change me when all it's done is made me weak." Draco sneered at her, not caring that tears were pouring down her cheeks. If it were not for the tears, he might have thought she did not care at all, for she was standing perfectly motionless, her shining eyes leveled on him. "I never wanted this, I never wanted you. I had my life planned out, and you almost ruined it."

"The only way I could ruin your life is if you let me walk away, and you know it's true," Ginny retorted. Draco rounded on her.

"Ginny, I don't need you anymore. I don't love you, and I want you to leave."

"You always lied to yourself, Draco, you're lying right now."

"No. The lie was every single moment I spent making you believe that I wanted you, that I thought you were special, that I believed that you would make me stronger," he was now standing over her shouting his words at her. She took them like a queen. Her chin was raised and she was poised for battle.

"I will tell you this right now, Draco Malfoy, and don't you ever forget it. There will be no one who will love you as much as I do. Even right now, when you're making it pretty clear that I am nothing to you, I will say it again: I love you."

"Thanks," he smiled mockingly. "That was touching."

"That's your problem, Malfoy! You'll never believe me that I'm telling the truth! Because you've convinced yourself that no one will ever love you."

"That's not true! My father loves me, Voldemort loves me!"

"And what kind of love is that!" she shouted at him.

"True, you've got everyone beat in the shagging department," he smirked at her, quickly grabbing her to him and treading his fingers through her hair at the base of her neck, titling her head up so she had to look at him. "In fact, you were the best fuck I've ever had," he laughed, then held her tight as he kissed her one last time.

Ginny quickly shoved away from him, shame washing over her. Never in her life had anyone made her feel as degraded as he did at that moment. And, with that, she knew it would never be the same.

"You're good for a fabulous shag, my Gryffindor love, but my master has given me what I have always wanted: power," Draco smirked at her, ignoring the look of pain etched into her features.

"I remember when you told me everything you ever wanted was me," Ginny said calmly, but her quivering bottom lip did not escape him.

"Ginny, you were always so smart; I would have never believed you to fall for that. I used that exact line on half of the bloody females in Hogwarts to get them to sleep with me. Though, I was surprised how quickly it worked on you…"

Ginny turned and slapped him so hard his head whipped to the side.

"I hate you for this."

"I don't care."

His response was so quick and unfeeling that Ginny was stunned into silence. The frank words broke her heart, but not as much as when she realized that he actually meant them.

She looked at him, pain radiating through her body, but she said nothing more. She took one last look at him. His perfect lips, his grey eyes that used to rake over her with pleasure, his broad shoulders and beautiful arms, his sculpted chin, and his muscled neck, everything she loved about him was gone. And with that one last look, Ginny Weasley was gone from his life.

And Draco Malfoy knew he had lied to her, but again, he didn't care. He had waited for the pain to come when she said that she hated him, and when it didn't, he had no reservations in telling her that he didn't care. In fact, he was relieved that she wasn't in his life anymore. Now, he had one less worry to weigh him down on his path to greatness.

Cutting Ginny out of his life, his only weakness, had perfected his being. He was now the strongest that he would ever be, Draco smiled to himself.

But, Draco Malfoy had yet to realize he had been severely wrong only twice in his life so far. The first was when he thought that he wouldn't love Ginny Weasley. The second was tonight.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

Harry watched as Ron, and Hermione climbed wearily through the portrait hole while he paused outside to collect his thoughts. They had left Lukas and Emlyn at the last turn to go their own ways, and now Harry paused to notice how empty the halls seemed. They were told that they, including Ginny, were the only students remaining the last night in the castle.

The lack of students only emphasized how completely silent the group was after leaving Dumbledore's office. It was loaded with tension and though no one spoke, Harry knew that they all needed to be on their own to think. But did he want to be by himself?

Emlyn had shot him a parting glance, and Harry almost followed her back to the Slytherin Common Room. He needed to hear her talk, he wanted to hear her opinion and he wanted her to know his. It was odd, he thought, that he wanted to be close to someone who still treated him like an enemy. Though he believed Ginny when she said that Emlyn had feelings for him, he had a hard time believing Emlyn would ever act on them. But, he could feel the tension between them, and that led him to his own conclusions. Obviously, though, he had never used his Elemental Aspect powers to discover how she really felt, he knew it would be terribly wrong. But more than that, he wanted her to tell him how she felt all on her own.

She had been quite open in telling him how much she hated him in the past. And now, when he knew Emlyn was getting frustrated with his politely distant friendship, he wasn't about to screw anything up. He was tired of waiting though, he sighed, then climbed through the portrait hole.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

Hermione was standing across from Ron in the Common Room, trying not to be mad at him.

"So, you're sitting with me on the train then!" Ron demanded, scowling openly at Hermione. She looked like she couldn't decide between laughing or yelling.

"You can't tell me where to sit, Ron!" Hermione said, poking him in the chest with her finger as if to emphasize the point.

"What if you were my girlfriend, huh? What about then!" Ron challenged grabbing her wrist and pulling her towards him. He looked down at Hermione, who had gone still and glued her wide eyes to Ron's face.

"It still wouldn't make a difference…" Hermione told him softly, trying to keep a smile from coming to her face. Ron wouldn't have noticed anyways, he turned bright red and Hermione knew it wasn't because he was embarrassed.

"How could you, Hermione!" he burst out. "I've told you I liked you in so many ways and you ignored all of them to go gallivanting around with that…" Ron paused, gathering his strength, "…Lukas," he sneered.

"Gallivanting?" she almost laughed, but her heart was bursting because Ron was still holding her close to him.
"I'm not stupid, I know a few 'large words,'" he informed her haughtily. "I do listen to you even though I pretend not to. I've loved you since you told me I had dirt on my nose on the train our first year. I know everything about you and you still overlook me because… I have red hair!"

"I love your red hair," Hermione said softly, staring up at him.

Ron either wasn't listening, or was too busy wrapped up in making sure he said everything he wanted to, because he continued, "I can't stand that you actually like that bastard, he doesn't even know how you like your tea in the morning, which is different than your supper tea. He can't possibly know how you scrunch up your nose when you think a homework assignment is hard, or when you actually figure it out you play it off like it was the easiest thing in the world. Or when you come to our Quidditch games you hide a book under your robes and read through the whole game then tell me you saw every save I made, just because you think I would be crushed if you didn't watch."

"Ron," Hermione interrupted.

"Or when you…" Ron persisted.

"RON!"

He stopped, staring at her, his eyes wide.

"When you asked me if being your girlfriend would make a difference, you didn't let me finish. I was going to say that it wouldn't make a difference unless… unless you kissed me," Hermione finished, and looked up at him boldly. She placed her other hand next to the one he was holding on his chest.

"What about Lukas?"

"Ron, we never dated, always just studied. It seems I like boys with red hair better," she smiled.

"He kissed you, I saw it!" Ron accused.

"He was just trying to provoke you, he knew you liked me and was trying to get us together," Hermione admitted softly. Ron suddenly looked livid, and turned away from her. His jaw was set and Hermione couldn't tell what he was thinking.

"Did it work?" she asked hopefully. Ron looked back at her, and with one glance Hermione knew she had won.

He turned around quickly and didn't waste any time pulling her closer. He kissed her senseless and when he ran one hand down her side to rest lightly on her hip, Hermione couldn't even breathe.

Ron lifted his head and began brushing kisses along her neck. Hermione slid her hands around his shoulders and into his hair, sighing with happiness.

"You love my red hair, do you?" Ron laughed against her skin, sending shivers up her spine.

"I always have. And even though I read during your games, I've still managed to catch every save you've made," she whispered back to him. "It seems I'm very good at… multi-tasking."

Ron laughed again, then pulled her tighter against him and kissed her.

Harry cleared his throat behind them and they pushed away from each other so fast that Ron fell over an end table and landed sprawled on the sofa.

"It's about time," Harry smiled. Hermione smiled back, but Ron just turned bright red and began to lift himself from the sofa. "I'm going to bed; I'll see you in the morning."

"I think I'm going to stay up for a bit, mate," Ron told him, casting a sideways glance at Hermione, who now blushed prettily.

"I'll see you in the morning, Ron," Harry said again, trying not to laugh as he made his way to the dormitory stairs.

He changed into his pajama bottoms slowly, noting how empty the room seemed with the other boys' stuff there to clutter it up. He climbed into bed pulling the drapes shut around him, wanting the privacy even though he knew that Ron would not be to bed tonight.

He smiled at his best friends' good fortune. They were in love, and Harry was happy for them, although melancholy himself. Though it wasn't the last day he would get to see Emlyn, far from it actually, he felt like once they left, nothing would be the same between them.

He thought awhile more about Dumbledore, Snape, the Apprentice, and his new role in the war, but exhaustion was setting in and he actually rolled over to fall asleep. No sooner had he done so, then he heard the door to the dormitory open. Harry slowly inhaled, trying to listen to see if it was Ron, though he knew that it wasn't.

He lay still, smiling to himself as he heard her make her way to his bed. She climbed in beside him, the sliver light from the window reflecting off her blond hair then disappearing as the draperies closed. He heard her sigh, then stretch out on her side, her face close to his.

"Harry," she whispered almost too quietly that Harry wasn't sure that she actually said anything at all. Not that he would have cared, Emlyn was lying next to him and all he wanted to do was pull her closer.

"Emlyn," he answered her.

"I didn't scare you did I?" she asked, her voice a little louder than before.

"No, it's kind of hard to surprise me anymore," he whispered back, and heard her laugh softly.

The silence between them seemed to stretch endlessly, but Harry didn't feel uncomfortable at all. They both seemed to be happy thinking their own thoughts while being near each other, until Emlyn touched his arm, sending tingles through his body.

"Harry," she said again, "I… I came here to tell you something." She paused for a long second again, and Harry did not interrupt her, though he wanted to edge her on. She finally continued, "That day when I kissed you before the Gryffindor/Slytherin match… I did that because I wanted to, not because I wanted to distract you."

"You still distracted me," Harry smiled, though she couldn't see him. She reached over him and tugged his arm towards her so he would have to roll over and face her. She kept her hand on his arm and Harry could feel her closeness in the darkness. Her knees were touching his, and he could barely see her face in the darkness. Her eyes were focused on his.

"You were spectacular today," she told him, breaking the silence. "I was worried that you would Impact and hurt everybody, but you were… amazing. I've never seen anyone fight like that before."

Harry was quiet, then whispered, "I was worried about you today; I didn't want you to be out there."

"I can take care of myself, Harry," she smiled to herself, hoping he couldn't see her.

"What if I want to take care of you? And protect you?"

"You can't," she said a little more harshly than she meant.

"I see," Harry said dully, rolling back onto his back, tucking his hands under his head. Emlyn still thought of him as her family's murder. He was crushed, and couldn't believe that he let someone affect him this much.

"That's not what I meant!" Emlyn said quickly, pushing herself towards him and pressing herself up on her elbows so that she could see into his face. "You can't want those things, Harry; you have so many other things that need your attention. You would be wasting your concentration on other things by worrying about me… and I just can't let you."

"Why don't you let me make that decision for myself, eh?" Harry asked her. "I think I have a right to set my own priorities. But you don't have to worry; I don't waste my time on someone who doesn't want it."

"I didn't…"

"Why are you in here anyways?" Harry interrupted her. "I did help murder your family, you know, and it seems that you're in my bed…"

"Shut up and let me talk!" Emlyn said fiercely, then punched him hard in the arm.

"Shit!" Harry grabbed at his shoulder then rolled towards her, pushing her down so that he was now pinning her to the bed. "You don't hit people whose bed you happen to he in."

"I wouldn't have hit you if you actually stopped and listened to me!"

"Talk," he commanded. But he could barely think when he realized that Emlyn was lying underneath him and not fighting him about it.

"I realize now that I was wrong about you, I needed someone to blame for Tynan and my parent's death. I couldn't grieve for them because I was too worked up in getting my revenge, and it happened that you were the easiest target," she admitted. Her face was mere inches from him and she was breathless because of his nearness. "I want to apologize for treating you so horridly, I never meant for things to end like this."

"Who says they are ending?" Harry asked her.

"I…" was all Emlyn could get out because Harry took that moment to lean down and kiss her. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer.

Harry was breathless but he never wanted to stop kissing her. She fit perfectly against him, and he couldn't wait to touch every inch of her, but suddenly she pulled away.

"I don't know if you realized this, but I … I really like you Harry."

"I really like you, too..." Harry smiled, kissing her shoulder. They both knew it was a gross understatement of their feelings for each other, but neither seemed to care.

They stayed in each other's arms for the rest of the night, talking into the early hours about what had happened that day. Harry finally felt peace, even if it was for a few hours.

"So how did you get in here anyways?" he asked her, letting his hand trail along her back.

"I told your portrait that it was an emergency and I needed to get you, she didn't really believe me but she let me in anyways. I think she knew why I was here," she laughed, tracing little circles on Harry's chest. "By the way, Ron and Hermione was doing some serious snogging on the couch, did you know they were together?" she asked him. Harry laughed, .

"As of tonight, yes. Ron finally told Hermione everything," he told her.

"Lukas will be happy," she smiled into the darkness. They were quiet a few moments more before Emlyn spoke again.

"It seems like everything is working out for everyone. I have you, Ron has Hermione, Lukas has Sam…except for Ginny."

"I wonder what will happen between them…" Harry mused.

"Um, obviously Draco is not coming back. He's the new Apprentice, Harry. He's going to be training to fight you now."

"I know, but I saw the way he looked at Ginny. He didn't ever mean to hurt her, I don't think." Harry told her.

"Either way, Ginny is going to be one hell of an enemy if he hurts her again," Emlyn said darkly.

"Then he has me to answer to," Harry said fiercely. Emlyn hugged him tighter and they were both silent until they fell asleep near dawn.

:¦:--:¦:--:¦:--:¦:-

As the waited on the front stairs for their Teacher escort to arrive the next morning, the six friends stared off towards the Forbidden Forest to where Dumbledore had fallen. They had all been quiet packing their belongings and eating their last breakfast at Hogwarts, but they talked for a bit as a group, and decided that working together was their only hope. They all mourned Dumbledore, but agreed that trusting Snape would be something they could not ignore. As for Damaris, Lukas and Emlyn were confident that they would recover her, but Harry could tell they were worried about her fate.

But Harry kissed Emlyn every chance he could get, and noticed that Ron did the same. Lukas just seemed happy for them and even reminded everyone of Ron's thick-headedness about asking Hermione out when Ron apologized for treating him so badly (at Hermione's insistence). Ron didn't seem too overjoyed at making friends, but smiled through it for Hermione's sake.

Ginny did not come down for breakfast, and after a brief discussion they realized no one had seen her go to bed.

But she showed up moments before the teachers arrived with her bags packed and floating behind her. Her hair was pulled up into a tight band, leaving the ends to spill down her back in waves. She was friendly, and answered questions about where she had been last night, (she had gotten back to her rooms before anyone else and stayed there all night) and looked as though she was trying to hide the fact that she had been crying.

Harry's heart hurt for her, and anger ripped through him just thinking about Draco. Dark circles marred her beautiful blue eyes, and a few pieces of her golden red hair had escaped and were already flying about her solemn face in the morning breeze.

"You didn't have to have Lukas force me to do something I would have done on my own time, Hermione…" Ron said crankily, interrupting Harry's thoughts. Hermione just laughed at him, giving him a big kiss to wipe away his bitterness.

"You needed all the help you could get, Ronald. It took you seven years to say something," Hermione smiled up at him. Ron grinned despite himself.

"You could have said something first!" Ron exclaimed.

"And what? Miss that beautiful speech you made?" Hermione beamed. Ron's ears turned red again as everyone looked inquisitively at him, and he avoided their eyes.

The teacher arrived, escorting them down to the train and they all sat in the first apartment they came too. It was so different, Harry noted, with all the other students gone. But he could understand their parent's eagerness to have them home.

The train had been moving for a bit when Harry realized that Ginny was not with them. He excused himself, saying that he had to go to the loo, and went in search of her.

Harry found Ginny sitting by herself in a carriage near the back of the cars, and he took a moment to study her before he went in. She made a heartbreakingly beautiful picture, and anger again flared up in him when he thought about Draco leaving her like this. She was sitting curled up against the window, her eyes looking out at the landscape and the sun shining in on her. Harry slowly pulled the door open and Ginny didn't even turn to look at him. He lowered himself onto the seat across from her, and she didn't look up at him, but her eyes flicked down to study her shoes.

"What's wrong, Ginny?" Harry asked her. Ginny was silent, and Harry could feel her working out an answer for him but all that came out was a slow tear that drifted down her cheek.

"He didn't do it," Harry told her softly.

"I know," she answered.

"Then why the tears?"

"He left, Harry. I told him that I loved him and he left me," Ginny answered. Harry's teeth ground and his hand itched to smash Draco's face in, but he controlled his emotions knowing that Ginny wouldn't appreciate his brotherly outrage.

"But he saved your life?" Harry questioned, and Ginny only nodded her head.

"It didn't matter to him afterwards," Ginny told him.

"I know this isn't really the time, but why didn't you use your powers to get away?" Harry asked her.

"I…" Ginny stopped. Her face was turned away from him and he could see her eyes searching the landscape vacantly as it rolled by. "I was protected," she said quietly a moment later.

Ginny knew in her heart that Draco wouldn't let her die, which is why she didn't even think of having another way of escape. But Harry took her meaning another way.

"And I will always watch out for you, Gin," Harry smiled sadly at her and Ginny didn't feel like correcting him.

Draco had been there for her, and for the moment, Ginny pushed away the destroying ache that enveloped her and entered into a peaceful translucence that lasted only as long as she could keep the thoughts of last night away from her.

She knew that Draco would protect her and she had forgotten all her powers, and all her survival instincts.

"Draco hates me," she told Harry quietly.

"That's still a good thing; at least he still cares enough about you to hate you. There are always ways to change that…"

Ginny scoffed, "Then Draco doesn't care about me anymore, Harry. He's made his choice." Ginny looked at him and rage built in him again. Her blue eyes were blank and expressionless, and he could tell that she was hurting a lot more than she let on.

Between me and the rest of the Weasley's, if they ever find out, Draco is not going to live through the beating he'll get, Harry thought savagely, but tried to think of a way to cheer her up.

"Well, I have something for you. It's from Dumbledore, he wrote it before he died," Harry pulled the half flattened scroll out his back pocket and handed it to her.

"Thanks Harry," Ginny looked up at him.

"I'll leave you alone to read it," Harry told her as he got up to leave. "But one more thing, I… I just want you to know how important you are to me and I wish I could save you from all this," he smiled, and Ginny slowly smiled back at him.

"I will always be here for you, too, Harry," she told him, and as he closed the cabin door Ginny unrolled the parchment.

She inhaled, trying to calm herself before she read, but tears slid from her eyes as soon as she recognized Dumbledore's loopy handwriting.

My Dearest Ginevra, she read, Underestimation is the biggest weakness that plagues Lord Voldemort, and it is not his underestimation of Harry, or Lukas and Emlyn, but those people that surround the most powerful of wizards. Your part in this war might be the most crucial of any, and I wish that I could be present when you learn where your abilities lie. Be strong, Ginevra, because even though the glory will belong to others, you will win the war.

May the gods watch over you, and happiness and strength be yours. Your friend, Albus Dumbledore

She furiously wiped at her cheeks and stared out the window clutching the letter in her hands as she watched the landscape whip by her. But everything reminded her of Draco, and she broke down crying because he wasn't there to hold her.

---

Draco, too, was looking out the window at the morning landscape from his bedroom window in Malfoy Manor. He was slowly unpacking and thinking about how great the night before had turned out.

After he had come back from Hogwarts with his things, Voldemort was there to meet with him alone. The Dark Lord had been impressed with his confidence in his abilities and standing up to authority, and was there to assure his Apprentice of his continued position.

Draco laughed to himself, Voldemort was actually impressed with his arrogance. He grabbed another robe, which happened to be his new Serpent Death Eater robe and shook it out. A paper flew out of it and landed near his foot, but he didn't notice it until he had finished sending the robe to his closet. He looked down and realized it was the picture of Ginny and himself in the library.

He bent down and picked it up gently just as a loud knock sounded on his door summoning him to practice. He quickly crumpled the picture, afraid that whoever was at the door would find him with it. But as he heard footsteps leaving, Draco cursed himself for being so jumpy. Fury raced through him and for a moment he didn't know why he was so angry. But looking down at the picture he realized that Ginny was still his weakness, and this picture was his last connection to the life that used to be his. A life that was now over.

Sneering slightly, he tossed the picture into the back of his closet, not caring where it landed and shut the doors firmly on his old life. His new one was about to begin…

To be continued...


PLEASE READ: So… that's it for Scars. BUT WAIT, there's more… The sequel to Scars, titled The Sickness and the Cure, is now in progress. You can find the link in my profile or search for it, whichever. But I've started to post it and I hope you like it! If you are just reading this now, leave me a note or something, I'd love to hear what you think! Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! On to the next one!

TO MY REVIEWERS: I want to give a huge thank you to everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) who ever reviewed this story! You guys gave me the confidence and drive to actually finish this and with all of your suggestions and pointers, this is as much your story as it is mine. Just knowing that what I wrote compelled you to write back, good or bad, is such a huge deal to me. So again, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I will miss talking to you all so much, and drop me some mail if you want to chat, or need a Beta, or want me to read a story! Thank you for every review and I hope that you find the time to read the next story whenever I get around to posting it.

Don't say it's over: Dark Dawning (Well, your review made me tear up, I have to admit it! It was such a huge HUGE compliment, and you always manage to comment on exactly what I'm worried about at the moment. And an Aspect novel would be quite interesting, I agree!) montequilladecacahuate (aaah! Peanut Butter! That's a kickin name! I adore pb. I hope you liked this chapter! Ginny is almost too naïve I think sometimes… too easy to hurt, sometimes that makes me a little teary eyed too.) Alexandria J. Malfoy (I'm going to be honest, it took me the longest time to figure out what LMAO meant… lol I'm a huge dork, I know it. But yea, I hoped you liked all the R/H and H/E going on! In my opinion, it was also about time!) Aellyr (After I posted, I regretted writing Dumbledore's death, even though I had planned on having it in there anyways. But I hope you survived and think everything in this chapter flowed okay!) SerenityMelody (I hope you're not to mad at me! Just remember, their story is definitely not over yet!) Wizzabee (Thank you so much for your compliment! I'm glad I can make you smile, too!) Blackness Angel (I'm sorry that Draco reminds you of Alex! Draco's being awful, but he's finding his way, yea? Lol I've never had brown sugar, but it sounds good! Chocolate is the best though, I couldn't live without it! And that's awesome that you have someone to chat HPFF with!) White Foam aka Frangipani Chic? (I'm glad that you thought Dumbledore's death wasn't random, I was quite worried about that. And a huge thanks for all your comments! I read your review before I posted to make sure I answered all your questions lol. And I agree that the school year passed to fast, but I find school stuff hard to write, probably because I spend so much of my time there anyways!) Dana6 (I'm glad you got through all the posts! And thanks for the review! I hope you liked this chapter too!) starfall (Draco is close to my heart too, he is one special guy. I'm glad you can identify with him too! I just always saw him as having to find his place before he can let himself love Ginny, and he has so much to go through! I'm sorry if Draco was awful in this chapter, writing him like that broke my heart… but it had to be done. The plot does thicken (quite a bit actually) and I hope you can forgive me for ending everything so abruptly. PS. I love long reviews; they give me a lot to think about!) Arianna (oh! I love angst, it's so emotional to write and read…just lovely! Thank you so much for the review! And I hope you liked this chapter… it's got some serious angst.) celestial-gal (I love the fights too! They are very challenging for me to write, and I'm so glad you liked that one! I am in the middle of my midterm exams and could only concentrate on this! I'm horrible, I know! That's awesome that you did great on your exams! Good luck with everything in the future and I hope to talk to you soon!) lovin ur story (I'm completely, utterly, entirely sorry that this update took so long and that I drove you to another story! I hope you like this insanely long chapter!)

And to everyone else who has read any part of this story: thank you so much And as always, read and review! -xxx DC